Friday, September 23, 2016

I Have a Short Fuse – on Guillows Lancer

Part of why I enjoy free flight model airplanes is there is so much to experiment with.  In the models I have built with a dethermalizer – DT, I have either used a viscous DT timer or with my electric free flight an electronic timer.  Using a burning fuse although a method that has been used for years is something I have avoided. In the two free flight contests I went to this summer I noticed many people are still using the burning fuse to bring their airplanes down.

Fuse DT on Guillows Lancer

Before building a new airplane using a fuse DT I thought I would start experimenting with an existing airplane I had, my Guillow’s Lancer would be easy to convert as the wing is held on with rubber bands. My thought was to popup the front of the wing to bring the airplane down; as the popup stab is not always adequate to bring lighter airplanes down from a thermal. Many people completely eject the wing off on lighter airplanes with a string attaching the wing to the rest of the airplane. On another airplane I will try this method. 

The Fuse is Burning

To get some idea how fast the fuse would burn and how well the snuffer tube worked, I cut some pieces of fuse and stuck them in an aluminum tube to test the burn rate using a stop watch. To light the fuse I was using a barbecue lighter which isn’t the most reliable method. Several people have given me better ideas on lighting the fuse which I will look at later.

Flying Upwards

The modifications I did to my airplane were to create a wire hook on top of the wing and on the top of the fuselage in the nose area.  From the hook in the middle of the wing a rubber band pulls the wing back while another rubber band running from the middle hook to the front hook holds the wing down in the front until the fuse burns that rubber band. Thin fishing line provides a limit to how far the wing can tip up in front. A short length of aluminum tube glued on top of the nose area is the snuffer tube that holds the fuse.

The Wing has Popped

Maybe Front of Wing Up too High

Last evening turned nice after a huge amount of rain so I decided this was my opportunity to try this out. Where I could fly from was far from where I parked so I stuffed in my pockets; fuse, scissors, small winder, rubber bands, and the grill lighter.  I knew the plane would not fly real long on the winds I could put in so I tried to make the fuse really short, and you thought I was losing my temper. 

Crashing, I Mean Landing on Grass

I made several flights and a couple of times it DT’ed about two feet off the ground. On one flight it did dt maybe 20 feet high and I snapped a couple pictures of it coming down.  The propeller was probably still turning as it came down but I was a little surprised how steep the nose was pointed down as it came down. It didn’t hurt the airplane and it should bring it out of a thermal.  The Lancer doesn’t have a good glide anyway but no doubt if it would wander into strong enough lift it could fly away.

Bill Kuhl

Related Links

Guillow's Lancer Model Airplane

Trying a New Idea on Nose Plug

Fuse I Purchased from Volare 

My Building and Flying Guillows Models Website

Monday, September 19, 2016

Aeromodeller Mention

I recently subscribed to the Aeromodeller model magazine online version, this being my first online version of a magazine. Subscribing to anything that is read online is something I have resisted but this might work out pretty well for me in that I can read it anywhere. If I have my smartphone along or can view on a bigger screen on a pc or other devices with larger screens.  Aeromodeller is an excellent model aviation magazine out of the UK that covers most aspects of model aviation.

Flash Fighter
This month I was somewhat surprised when in the October issue was a mention of my name and this blog in a review of the Flash Fighter capacitor powered model airplane that I had reviewed some time ago.  For a toy model airplane that looks like a jet aircraft it flies pretty well, the designer Rob Romash is very accomplished in model aviation competition.  These airplanes were sold for a time at a real discount at Radio Shack stores, I just searched Amazon and it appears it is still available from online sources.

Allegro Lite

Whipit DLG

Last week I had taken vacation one afternoon to do some model flying as the wind was really low for this time of year.  It gave me a chance to try the Whipit tiny RC DLG glider that I had replaced the radio gear in as one servo had a rough spot in it. With such tiny servos, the tiniest hitch in the servo gears will cause problem. Luckily I was able to find RC gear out of another model that fit.  After adjusting the trim I had it climbing in thermals but that is not real easy.  I also flew my Allegro Lite two meter glider which flew well but I realize now that it must be flown faster to get fast rudder response.

Gizmo Geezer Propeller System

Wilbur Rubber Model Stabilizer - O'Reilly Plans

I have been experimenting with the Gizmo Geezer propeller system for rubber powered free flight and will be writing a review. This device senses the rubber tension and stops the rubber from completely unwinding and puts the propeller in free wheel mode. Also I am building a nostalgia rubber model the Wilbur which uses some building techniques I have not seen before.

Launching a Supra Unlimited Sailplane

Last Saturday was local monthly RC thermal contest. Not ideal conditions, dark and windy at times. We started launching some DLG’s for fun. Even my heavy Hyper DL was climbing in lift. Around noon we started our simple contest, take your best 4 flights and add together. The first glider I was going to use the stabilizer was loose so I used my really heavy 2 meter as it penetrates the wind well at 50 ounces. Other people were flying lighter 2 meter gliders that were staying up better but the two Supra unlimited sailplanes had total flight times of over an hour.  A good part of this was the pilots as the guys flying these gliders can make a Radian fly really well.  

Bill Kuhl

Related Links

Rob Romash - Capacitor Powered Model Airplane

Aeromodeller Magazine

Gizmo Geezer

Jim O'Reilly Plans

My Whipit Review

About my Allegro Lite

Friday, September 9, 2016

Wonderful Summer of Model Airplane Flying

It sure has been a great summer for me with lots of model airplane flying including contest flying in both radio control sailplanes and free flight.  I made it to the International Aeromodeling Center in Muncie Indiana to compete in the Free Flight Nats and also to Minneapolis Model Aero Club for the August contest. For the most part the wind was rather light for those events, which is a really good thing. I also did some sport RC electric flying on a private flying field.

Flying at Free Flight Nats in Muncie Indiana

Friend's Large Cub Landing
Flying with MMAC FF Club in MN

My Pearl E202 at MMAC

In the spring and fall it seems the likelihood of windier weather is more prevalent and that is when I do more RC slope soaring. Last weekend I flew slope both Saturday and Sunday, on Sunday flew at a new to me flying site.  As the daylight gets shorter I spend more time building model airplanes and I have started on a couple of projects, one is a free flight hi-start glider the Gnome kitted by Retro RC. This is not a regular contest event but should be fun just to try. I have also started on a nostalgia rubber free flight the Wilbur with plans and parts from Jim O' Reilly's Model Plans.  The fuselage consists of all diagonal pieces, Jim O’Reilly said this is Warren Truss type of construction that is much stiffer for the weight. 

Slope Flying on New Small Slope

To improve my free flight contest performance I am trying to learn more about certain aspects of free flight contest aircraft such as DT timing and propeller free wheeling. I have worked with adjusting the spring tension on the viscous timer in my NJAPF P30 model so that it trips the DT after 2 minutes. To learn about a rubber power free wheeling setup I purchased a Gizmo Geezer and I have been running it in a stationary test setup. This looks like a neat product that not only free wheels the propeller but keeps enough tension on the rubber that the nose should stay on and allows easy thrust adjustments. I also purchased some DT fuse and have been lighting that and timing the burn times.

Gizmo Geezer on Test Run

Thank you to everyone that has been reading my blog which just went over 150,000 views this week from starting in 2013. Now that school is starting my website traffic is picking up quickly too. 

Bill Kuhl

Links Related to this Article

Academy of Model Aeronautics

Gizmo Geezer

Jim O’Reilly Plans Service  

Retro RC  FF Gnome

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Comparing Free Flight and RC Sailplane Contests

I enjoy both outdoor free flight and radio control sailplane competition, in both types of competition you must have your model aircraft flying in rising thermal air currents. The rules and the nature of the aircraft differ between the two types of model aircraft competition.

Winch Launch RC Sailplane
Altitude Electric RC Sailplane Contest

In RC soaring contests you are required to launch at your specified time to fly. The height of the launch is pretty close for everyone. If it is an altitude limited contest by using an altitude sensing device in an electric powered sailplane all launch heights should be close to the same. If launched by winch the height can vary based on the zoom obtained after releasing from the winch line.

Glow Powered Free Flight Launch

Free flight airplanes are normally limited by the engine or motor run; be it glow engine or electric motor. Rubber powered free flight can have limitations on the amount of rubber used to power the airplane. Unless it is FAI free flight competition which uses a series of rounds in which you must fly once within the round and wait until next round starts before making another flight; you are free to launch any time you want.

Free Flight Discus Gliders in Thermal

 Discus launch height in both radio control and free flight is whatever height the pilot is able to throw his sailplane to.

RC soaring scores are normally adjusted based on a factor of the best flight time for the pilots flying at the same time.  

In free flight you are pretty limited where you can launch your model. With RC sailplanes you are limited where you launch but after launch the sailplane can be flown anywhere to search for thermal lift.

FF Glider Launched Within Glider Pen Area

What does this all mean as far as strategy of the contestants in either event? Basically in free flight you try predict as closely as possible when strong thermal is passing through your immediate area and launch, hoping the airplane will continue to circle in the thermal for a max flight.  In RC soaring you launch when required and direct your sailplane to find the thermal lift often a fair distance away from launch.  The signs you look for are often other sailplanes or birds climbing in lift or the blowing of tree leaves in the distance. Free flight contestants often use a variety of tools to measure temperature and wind speed as well as using Mylar streamers and blowing soap bubbles. They watch other airplanes as well often resulting in a bunch of airplanes in the air at once.

Wind Speed and Temperature

Both types of model competition are challenging and fun for the contestants.

Bill Kuhl

My Related Videos Nats 2016 Free Flight  Electric Sailplane Introduction   RC Sailplane Electric Winch Launching

Monday, August 22, 2016

Too Wimpy for Competition

After my poor contest standings in a local radio control soaring contest yesterday and in free flight contests before that I have to admit my not taking chances might be one excuse I could use.  In the RC soaring contest it appeared that the longest flights were by those that flew downwind after launch while I was trying to find lift upwind. An experienced pilot told me the thermals were coming across the field and shearing off at the tree line behind us. 

With sailplanes that have better glide ratios and penetration than my Sig Riser 100, going far downwind is normal for a Supra but pilots with lesser performing sailplanes were doing it too. After crashing into the low branches of a tree with my Gentle Lady a couple of years ago I seem to have become more timid about going downwind off the field.  I watched in amazement yesterday as Ali and John S. flew over the trees for extended periods. 

In the free flight contest flying I have done recently I have no backup airplanes so if I lose one I am done for that event. In addition I have no tracker system. On my P30 airplane that has put in respectable flights I have not worked with the viscus DT system enough to be able to set it for a flight time over 2 minutes. My airplane is using stab DT which I understand is not always adequate for strong thermals to bring the airplane down. As far as finding the thermals I do not have the patience or experience yet.

NJAPF P30 Free Flight

Yes, I have plenty of excuses and could come up with more. More importantly I am having fun and learning all the time.  If it was too easy that would not be fun either, I remember flying in a lesser RC pylon racing event for a time in which I won every race for a time. That wasn’t much fun and I switched back to the more competitive event. Flying so many different aspects of model aviation no doubt lessens my focus on a particular aspect but I enjoy the variety.  

For the last two flights I switched to a different glider that turns and penetrates slightly better. On the last flight I caught some lift off launch and then went downwind over the trees.  My timer said I thought you were going to have to land two minutes ago; I came down at 4:57.  I was happy with my performance on that flight. 

Almost as much as participating in model aviation, I enjoy writing about it and sharing the success of others.  As I meet more people in model aviation they tell me they enjoy reading my blog posts. Thank you, that keeps me going.

Bill Kuhl

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Minnesota Free Flight Contest near North Branch MN

This past Sunday I made the trip to a monthly contest of the MMAC free flight club at their flying site near North Branch Minnesota. I had been there once before several years ago but believe they were flying from a different section. There is a lot of area but besides sod there are crops as well. My flights never made it into the crop area. For me this is over a two hour drive one way and there was a big detour that extended the time. Earlier this year I was planning on going but the weather was bad on contest day.

When I arrived I made some test flights of my Pearl e202 after doing repairs on the stab after the Nats, flights were pretty good but I think I need adjustments yet on the power phase of the flight. This was their mostly silent meet so there was a lot of rubber models, gliders, and a couple of glow powered airplanes. I flew P30, scale, and HL glider. 

It appeared that there was some lift in the morning but it was more consistent in the afternoon.  My last P30 flight was made in the afternoon and it landed fairly close to the edge of the grass area of the field. I was well satisfied as I do not have a tracker. Dave Edmondson had his P30 land a couple of miles away and it was found by using the tracker.

I spent a great deal of time flying at this contest but didn’t get as much time to spend on taking pictures and video as I would have liked.  One person I met has corresponded with me through the Internet. Steve had a beautiful Korda rubber model that uses the rubber band burning DT system.  It looked like a good combination of old tech and new tech. Gary Oakins had a really nice power flight that had people wondering if the DT was going trip, see flight in video link.

Bill Kuhl

Videos from the Flying

Dave Edmondson Hustler 750  -

Embryo Take Off -

Long Glow Flight -

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Nats 2016 Flying Part II

Besides E36, I flew in three other categories; catapult glider, HL glider, and P30. Catapult was a last minute decision, I just put a hook on the front of a hand launch glider I had. The glider had no DT and I was afraid of losing it on a test flight right before the contest. My first contest launch went straight up and straight down crashing in the glider pen but no damage. For the rest of the flights I used a Vartarian glider. I didn’t wait very long for what might be good thermal air and flights were pretty short.

Catapult Glider Flyers

After my official flights I tried the first glider again. Several not so good flights and then it connected with a thermal. The glider circled and drifted down the field, I took up chase in a golf cart. I was beginning to think the glider would be lost forever as it was getting rather high; but it started a downward spiral to the ground.

HL Glider Event

HL Glider which is mainly a discus launch event had some stiff competition but at least I had a glider with a fair amount of flying on it but always with short DT set. During the time period I made my official flights the sky was overcast, probably not great thermal conditions. Some of my launches were pretty good, others not so good. When I try to launch really hard my coordination seems to suffer, at least I had one flight of a minute.

My Dynomite 

The designer of the Dynomite glider I was flying Stan Buddenbohm was there as well as other top notch competitors such as Tim Batiuk and Jan Langelius . Just from a quick glance, Stan noticed my stab had a warp in it. When I stopped by later I noticed several gliders circling in a thermal, what a cool thing that was to see.

Stan Launching

Gliders in a Thermal

P30 Rubber Event

Friday which was the final day was the P30 event and the weather was really nice. Several years ago I had built the Al Lidberg beginners P30 NJAPF but just this year I added the DT and flew it with several hundred turns on the rubber motor. I flew from small fields and set the DT for no more than 30 seconds to keep it on the field. Before going to the Nats I was busy with College for Kids class and did not have a chance to test the DT for a two minute flight.  I wound the DT up much farther than I had before but this resulted in the DT deploying at just over a minute bringing my plane down too soon where at least one flight might have been a max. Still I was happy how well it flew and was worried I might lose it with a stab DT and no tracker.

My NJAPF P30 Model

Bill Kuhl